Van Roestraten was apprenticed under the great master Hals. In 1646, he entered the city’s painters’ guild as a portrait painter, commencing his activity in the Hals workshop in that year and retained his apprenticeship with Hals. He married Hals’ daughter in Amsterdam. The couple moved to London, and it was there that the artist made his reputation. He came to specialize in still lifes, specifically “pronk” paintings in the mode of Kalf — elaborate images of flowers, silverware, lacquered pieces, porcelains, ceramic ware and the like — and received the patronage of the nobility. This painting carries an allegorical significance, symbolically alluding to the passage and vanities of life through the presentation of the extinguished candle in its magnificent candelabrum, the single flower, the fine pocket watch and the open book. The medal in the foreground bears the image of King Charles II of England, from whom he hopes to receive commissions. The exquisitely articulated, suspended mirrored glass ball in our painting also appears to reflect the artist in his studio, a conceit with a long history in art that can be traced back to the primitive painter Van Eyck.